Nanotech 2011

Beyond Binding: Nanomaterials that provide true catalytic enhancement

M. Myers
Nissan Chemical America Corporation, US

Keywords: ceria, zirconia, co-catalyst, nanomaterials, NOx


Despite popular belief that nanotechnology is a promising research field with possible future applications, nanomaterials have proven their worth in commercial applications for years. One application is catalysis. Nanosilica particles are employed in catalytic applications as varied as automotive catalytic converters to fluidized cracking catalyst, to improve strength, binding and porosity of catalyst media. Until recently, however, the contribution of nanomaterials has been mostly limited to physical and mechanical enhancements of the catalyst media, not catalytic activity. Nanosilica is expected to provide strength and porosity while being chemically inert to avoid inhibiting catalytic function. This chemical neutrality expectation is changing as new materials reach commercial availability. These materials provide physical properties like that previously expected, but additionally provide chemical enhancement of catalytic activity. One material is a nanoscale ceria which serves as a co-catalyst for NOx reduction in automobile exhaust. Other materials include zirconia that acts as electrolyte in solid oxide fuel cells, as well as other catalytic function. We will discuss traditional uses of nanomaterials in catalyst applications, then present several new materials which provide greater function to catalyst applications, and finally will examine needs in the catalysis field and how emerging and future nanomaterials might fill those needs.

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